A Painter and a Photographer Treat Models like Moving Canvases in “Raw Beauty”

For the exhibition “Raw Beauty,” artists Antoine Verglas and Bradley Theodore teamed up to create a series of works exploring the nexus of street art and fashion photography. The duo worked closely together: Theodore painted directly onto models’ bare skin and Verglas photographed them after, while their bodies in motion enlivened the paintings. Verglas has explained, “When Bradley and I decided to work on this project we wanted to bring art to life and then capture that moment in photos.”

To begin these works, Theodore selected a color for each model—for example, teal for Hanna, white for Georgie, blood red for Angel, bright pink for Natalia. He then treated their skin as he would a canvas, coating it evenly, and then getting to work outlining forms like breasts, eyebrows, and arm bones in contrasting hues. Enter Verglas, who captured each model, responding to their motions and poses as he photographed them. One work entitled Natalia (2015) exemplifies this approach. In it, a starkly lit model has suddenly assumed an upright position, her vibrantly painted body caught in a blur.

Verglas, a Paris-born fashion photographer, has worked large glossy magazines like Vogue, ELLE, and GQ, and shot legendary supermodels like Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. Apart from his collaborative series with Theodore, several independently shot photographs are also on display, providing an interesting contrast to the new collaborative works.

Born in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Theodore now lives in New York, and has created work on the streets of many international cities. His bold painting style—thick, impasto brushstrokes and a rich color palette—is identifiable across various series and translates to these new works, despite the unusual surfaces. Several of his paintings are also on view, including Karl (2014), Anna (2014), and Coco (2015), in which fashion icons Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, and Coco Chanel are rendered in stripes and swaths of brilliant color. A similarly liberal, energetic use of paint can be seen throughout his collaboration with Verglas.

Czech-German supermodel Hana Nitsche has said of the project, “It was an amazing experience to be able to project Bradley’s art, with my body, in a variety of emotional poses for Antoine’s photography.” In effect, this series of works is more than a collaboration between Theodore and Verglas, but a conversation between artists, muses, and materials.

Anna Furman


Raw Beauty: Bradley Theodore and Antoine Verglas” is on view at ACA Galleries, New York from Jun. 11-Jul. 31, 2015.


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